According to popular Nigerian slang, “a soldier goes, a soldier comes, but the barracks stay,” and this is true for performers in the Nollywood industry. Sometimes we encounter a joke or a short video from an old Nollywood movie that fits into today’s scenarios, and we go looking for the whole movie. After you’ve satisfied your desire to rewatch a movie you saw years ago, your curiosity is piqued, and you wonder where the stars of those films are now.
Because I, too, had asked that question of many of these stars, I went searching, and in my digging, I discovered some answers to your queries, and I’m here today to tell you what really happened to some of your favorite performers and why you don’t see many of them on screen anymore.
1. Bob-Manuel Udokwu
Bob-Manuel Udokwu is a Nigerian actor who debuted in the film industry in 1992 with his first film, Living in Bondage, which went on to become a massive blockbuster that helped put Nollywood on the map. He went on to appear in more notable films such as When The Sun Sets and Checkmate over the years.
In 2010, it was believed that Bob-Manuel will enter politics. He eventually became the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Anambra State, Mr Willie Obiano, on Creative Media (Movie and Entertainment), and has since been active in the political sphere as well as behind the scenes of Nollywood.
2. Saint Obi
Saint Obi, dubbed “Mr. Quality” for his high-level performances and attention to detail, broke onto the film scene in 1995. Take Me to Mama, Candle Light, State of Emergency, and Executive Crime are just a few of the films in which he appeared.
The actor confessed in an interview with The Daily Sun that he didn’t stop performing because the jobs stopped arriving. He stated:
As you become older, you understand that you don’t have to be in every movie. If you’ve been following my career, you’ll know that throughout the years, I went from doing ten movies a year to six. I then lowered it to one each year because I believe that what matters is how well you act, not how many times you feature in a film.
People constantly contact me to invite me to appear in their films, but I always decline. My reasoning is that as you travel around, you get new interests and opportunities. In Igbo terminology, you don’t observe a masquerade display from a single vantage point; you have to roam about to get the full picture.
Each wise individual will seize any chance that presents itself; there are a million and one enterprises that connect with one’s vocation. The Dangotes of this world run a million businesses; they don’t stick to one and grow into who they are today.
I didn’t stop acting because I couldn’t get work, but because I needed to do something else. However, I am still involved in the industry, albeit primarily behind the scenes.
3. Charles Okafor
Charles Okafor is an actor who made his debut in 1996 with the hit film Domitilla. He rose to prominence rapidly, acting in films such as Computer Girls, Abuja Boys, and Executive Connection.
Because of his faith, Charles formally retired from mainstream Nollywood acting in 2013. He stated:
“I’ve been quiet for a time because, as a result of my newfound religion, I’ve shifted my focus to advocacy and human-interest films.” I’m still a working actor and filmmaker, but I’m more conscious of the scripts I read. A time comes in the life of any professional when he must take a step back and assess his professional challenges as well as the spiritual legacy he want to leave behind. If you want to be a beacon to the nations of the world, you can’t just make any kind of film. We must be viewed in the perspective of all things that honor God. I’m motivated to make advocacy films because they address societal issues, personal issues, and spiritual challenges that are borderline kingdom-related. That explains why I may not be as apparent as I once was. You see, you can’t have your cake and eat it. You cannot serve both God and Marmon. You must state your position unequivocally. I’ve put my hands to the plow, so I shouldn’t look back, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m still a professional actor and filmmaker.”
4. Sam Dede
Sam Dede is a well-known Nollywood actor who has appeared in films including as Issakaba, Igodo, and Mission To Nowhere.
When asked about his noteworthy absence from the film industry in 2015, Sam Dede stated:
Three years ago, I honoredably accepted the position of Director General of the Rivers State Tourism Development Agency (RSTDA). That was one of the reasons I left the film industry. I only have one year left as D-G of RSTDA before returning to the film industry, the theatre, and education.
Sam returned to the screen in 2018 in the film Kamsi and in 2019 in the television series The State.
5. Tony Umez
Tony Umez debuted as an actor in 1993. He rose to notoriety after appearing in the 1998 film Died Wretched, and he has since acted in a slew of other films, including Taste of Sin, Last Dance, and Cross of Agony.
The Nollywood actor never formally retired from performing and continues to pop in and out of the film industry as he pleases. In fact, he recently participated in the film 16th Anniversary, which was released in 2017. He recently appeared on social media after admirers began a trend asking for him and showcasing old videos of him as a soft lover. He responded to their demand by opening a Twitter account. You may find him on Twitter at @toneroangel.
6. Pat Attah
Pat Attah was the early-2000s heartthrob. He appeared in a variety of films, including Glamour Girls, Jealous Lovers, and Love From Above.
Pat was believed to have given his life to Christ and went to Germany in 2011. But we hadn’t heard anything from Pat in years. That is, until Pat released a music video for a song he wrote called Sunshine in 2018.
7. Hanks Anuku
Hanks Anuku was and always will be Nollywood’s bad boy. It’s unfortunate that no one has been able to take his place since he left the industry.
Hanks appeared in a slew of badass films, including Skeleton, Senator, and The Fall of the Great Jago.
He moved to Ghana, became a Ghanaian citizen, and has since stayed there with his family, abandoning the Nollywood scene totally.